I had been trolling Craigslist for weeks. My job as an office manager wasn't paying the rent, and my long-deferred student loans were piling up in my mailbox. Despite looking for administrative positions that paid twice what I was making, I kept going back to "Egg Donors Needed."
The idea of making eight grand, while also helping a fellow human being, seemed an ideal solution. I've always had a soft spot for charity, and an even softer spot for money. Granted, it wouldn't solve all my financial problems, but I thought it was a way to get ahead while I found that perfect job. That was two years ago; I'm still looking for that perfect job.
After much internal debate, and a call to the Ask-a-Nurse in my hometown to see what, if any, side effects I could expect, I clicked on the link to a fertility center in New York City. The Ask-a-Nurse in New Hampshire didn't have any information for me. In fact, they were puzzled why I called them. Looking back, I am too.
I briefly glanced at the FAQs (my mind was made up, I didn't need answers), and printed the 10-plus-page application. I carried the bundle of questions around with me for a week before I finally decided to commit to filling it out, which was no small feat. It took me days to acquire all the necessary information. While I could easily answer my own physicalities, thanks to a mirror and a penchant for critically over-analyzing myself for the past 30 years, my extended family-related information was much more difficult.
About myself, I had to answer everything from my eye and hair color, to my bone size and artistic ability, to the number of tattoos and/or piercings I had, to the amount of freckles on my body. I'm not a freckly person, so I was able to count them all: 43.
I didn't want to tell my parents what I was up to, as I knew my idea would be dismissed as me being flaky or, closer to the truth, immature and impulsive. Those adjectives are both true. Keeping my real intentions under wraps, it was difficult to ascertain the weight and birthplace of my grandparents, as well as any and all medical conditions. I tried to collect all the pertinent information over a couple days' worth of conversations with my both my parents. I tried to be as subtle as possible. I never really got the hang of subtleties.
"Why are you so interested in this stuff?" asked my mom.
"I figured it was time to know everything about my ancestors," I said.
"Well, I don't know how much your grandfather weighed, and honestly, I think that's a strange question."
"Can you at least tell me if either one of them had a club foot, an undescended testicle or something called Hydrocephalus?"
"Amanda, I'm pretty sure neither one of your grandmothers had an undescended testicle, and I've never heard of Hydro- whatever you just said."
"But if they had these things, we'd know, right?"
"You're being weird again. Call me when you want to have a normal chat," reprimanded my mother.
Needless to say, much of the information was a wee-bit fudged. Realistically though, how many people know whether or not their grandmother has uterine fibroids? This isn't exactly Thanksgiving-dinner conversation material (at least not in our house).
I took matters into my own hands. After Wikipedia-ing a myriad of diseases and ailments, I diagnosed my family members with my own unprofessional opinion. Truth be told, my family is fairly healthy except for the occasional case of high cholesterol or blood pressure. If anyone did have some wasting, debilitating disease, they kept it hidden quite well. Keeping secrets is definitely a quality one should want in their future offspring, in my humble and, again, unprofessional opinion.
I finally made it to the last page of the application. I acknowledged that all the personal history had been "correct, to the best of my knowledge," and signed my name. I mailed it the following day. And so I began my wait. In this day and age, waiting is near impossible. We're so used to immediate gratification. I know this is why I prefer Polaroid cameras to all else.
I once had a co-worker who donated her eggs to her infertile sister, so I was aware of the time commitment, the necessary hormonal injections, and the counseling that all came into play during the process. I had a fear of needles, but figured I could put that fear aside for financial gain ... and, oh, to help an infertile couple, of course.
I waited some more. Right before I completely forgot about the whole idea, I got a letter from the fertility clinic. I was immediately transported back to those days in high school when I anxiously awaited the decisions of various universities. I held the envelope in my hand and tried to psychically determine the results. I'm not psychic, so I had to open it after all.
Rejection on every level is hard. Whether it's a breakup, not getting a promotion, or having a literary agent tell you your work isn't good enough -- all experiences I had dealt with. I've never been good with rejection, and I know it's something I will never master. However, having my eggs rejected via a standard form letter was something else, something I took personally. Very personally, in fact.
I have never been completely comfortable with my looks: I'm short (5-foot-1 on a good day), I have my father's French nose, and if I stare at myself too long in the mirror, I'm pretty sure my eyes are uneven, too. But I do have pretty blue eyes, and naturally curly hair that my friends have always coveted, and from what I've gathered from boys I've dated, my D-cup breasts are definitely an asset that might be worth passing along to a future generation.
I didn't go to an Ivy League school and, yes, I failed logic not once or twice, but three times. Is that not charming? There wasn't a short family out there that might want my less-than-perfect eggs? A baby with potential to be mildly quirky and grow up having an unabashed obsession with F. Scott Fitzgerald -- were these not things people wanted in a child? No, apparently not.
Maybe my lineage isn't without its, er, skeletons. I'm French (drama-ridden), Irish (I like a drink or several) and Swedish -- we all know Swedes are known for being promiscuous (they did just delegate Monday, Sept. 13, 2010, as National Chlamydia Day). So there it was -- a big "thanks, but no thanks," and not just to me, but to every family member before me. There was no one to pat me on my head and say "It's OK, you still have some redeeming qualities." All there was, was that form letter staring back at me, proof that I was even more broken than I had originally thought.
I held on to that letter until the next day. And I cried as I reread it more times than was appropriate, as if I were trying to imprint the feeling of rejection on my brain and heart. My girlfriends laughed it off -- they pointed out that weeks of hormonal injections would not only make me a raging lunatic but would also get in the way of our standing Boozy Brunch dates on Saturdays and Sundays (you're not supposed to drink when preparing your eggs for harvest), and they were right. When it came down to it, I really wasn't ready to make the necessary compromises for such an invasive procedure. I relished my single life in New York City that was without major responsibilities, so there was no need to put a wrench in my day-to-day routine of doing what I wanted when I wanted.
When my tears had ceased, I shrugged my shoulders, and lit the letter on fire. Yes, it was a little irrational, and, even more so, dramatic, but that's the French in me. Someday, someone is going to think these eggs are worthy of fertilization and procreation. I can only imagine what sort of fella would feel this way, but I like to think he'll be tall, strange and steeping in flaws. I never met a perfect person I liked anyway.
Amanda Chatel is a freelance writer and the snarky lass behind The Angry Office Manager – a sometimes inappropriate, and mildly offensive blog that was once about her former office-manager days, but has evolved into a ranting and raving of this and that. She is a frequent contributor to The Gloss, Untapped New York, and writes the music column "Neither Here Nor There" for Sick of the Radio. She lives in New York City with her dog, Hubbell.